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Why This Matters: Hurricane season really gets serious only now, so the worst is still ahead of us. And the revised forecast is a big increase over what had been forecast at the beginning of the season when NOAA said there was a 70% chance of 13 to 19 named storms. Now they have 85% certainty it will be much worse. In fact, they expect that there could be three to six storms that end up as major hurricanes like Maria, Dorian, and Michael, which caused so much destruction and will take billions of dollars to rebuild and years of recovery efforts. More than 100,000 people across 3 states are still without power just from Tropical Storm Isaias, which does not bode well for the rest of the season.
According to NOAA, this year has seen a “record-setting nine named storms so far and has the potential to be one of the busiest on record. Historically, only two named storms form on average by early August, and the ninth named storm typically does not form until October 4.” Why so bad? The ocean is particularly warm in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and the tropical Atlantic trade winds are weak, with reduced wind shears and a stronger West African monsoon season and these conditions are expected to remain in place for several months. NOAA’s lead hurricane prognosticator, Gerry Bell, explained “This year, we expect more, stronger, and longer-lived storms than average, and our predicted ACE range extends well above NOAA’s threshold for an extremely active season.”
This year has seen many bad records broken when it comes to climate-driven severe weather. We are now several letters into the Greek alphabet for storm names having reached this point (23 so far) for only the second time since storm names began.
Why This Matters: The number of storms is not just a fun fact — it is devastating for tens of thousands of people.
Hurricane Sally, now a category 2 storm (winds at 110 mph) has slowed and intensified in the last 24 hours, with landfall now shifting to the east (fortunately away from New Orleans), but crawling toward the Eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida Panhandle coastline with its high winds whipping the shore, the storm surge and huge rainfall amounts are expected to last for the next 36 hours.
Why This Matters: As President Trump denies the science, which he literally did today in California, the Gulf Coast gets ready for rainfall totals measured in feet not inches.
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